Salk Institute
Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine
Tony  Hunter

Tony Hunter

American Cancer Society Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Renato Dulbecco Chair

Tony Hunter, a Professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and Director of the Salk Institute Cancer Center, studies how cell growth and division are regulated, and how mutations in genes that control growth lead to cancer. His group has made significant contributions in the area of signal transduction, elucidating how signals that stimulate or inhibit proliferation are transmitted within a cell.

In 1979, his group discovered that phosphate can be attached to tyrosine residues in proteins. This seminal discovery opened the door to the study of tyrosine kinases and their role in signal transduction, and in cell proliferation and development, as well as to their role in cancer and other human diseases. This knowledge already has resulted in the development of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors that provide a new approach to cancer treatment.

His current efforts are aimed at elucidating how post-translational modification of proteins by phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, and sumoylation is used to regulate cell proliferation and cell cycle checkpoint activation in response to DNA damage. His recent work has highlighted crosstalk between phosphorylation and ubiquitylation, and between sumoylation and ubiquitylation in the control of cell signaling pathways, and in particular has defined the role of SUMO-targeted E3 ubiquitin ligases, such as RNF4 family ligases, that ubiquitylate sumoylated proteins leading to their degradation. His group has also defined a role for ubiquitylation in lifespan determination in C. elegans, characterized the consequences of somatic mutations in protein kinases such as DAPK3 in carcinogenesis, and has recently developed antibody reagents for studying histidine phosphorylation.


  • BA, First Class Honors, University of Cambridge, England
  • PhD, University of Cambridge, England
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, The Salk Institute and University of Cambridge

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of London
  • Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Member of the National Academy of Medicine
  • Member of the American Philosophical Society
  • American Cancer Society Research Professorship
  • General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Prize, 1994
  • Gairdner Foundation International Award, 1994
  • J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine, 2000
  • Keio Medical Science Prize, 2001
  • Sergio Lombroso Award in Cancer Research, 2003
  • City of Medicine Award, 2003
  • American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, 2004
  • Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research, 2004
  • Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research 2004
  • Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, 2004
  • Wolf Prize in Medicine, 2005
  • Daniel Nathan's Memorial Award, 2006
  • Robert J. and Claire Pasarow award for Cancer Research, 2006
  • Clifford Prize for Cancer Research, 2007
  • Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Award, Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center, 2011
  • Signal Transduction Society Honorary Medal, 2011
  • Thomson-Reuters Citation Laureate, 2012
  • Einstein Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2013
  • Fellow, AACR Academy, 2013

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